“All I want to do, ever, is play chess.”
By Alex P. Vidal
MARIO Lawsin Rebano has done what other highly regarded Pinoy chess players campaigning in the United States have failed to do in recent memory: winning three chess championships in different high caliber tournaments in two years.
|NM Rebano (L) ponders his move against a US grand master|
A civil engineer by profession, the 53-year-old Filipino National Master (NM) chalked up another scintillating performance before the year 2019 ended by clinching the Empire City Open 2019 Under-2100 at the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City held on December 26-28.
Finishing unscathed with five points and two draws after six rounds, Rebano shared the title with four others to pocket his third major title since winning the 17th Chess-in-the-Park Rapid Open at the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park on September 16, 2018 and the 11th Annual Fairfield Country Open (U2200 division) in Norwalk, Connecticut on November 18, 2018.
In the Empire City Open, Rebano (2077), who survived the 2013 super storm “Yolanda” in Leyte, toppled four opponents: Eric Levin of New Jersey, Leonardo Liu of New York, Jose Villar of New York, and Sounak Bagchi of New York.
He drew with Kenneth Fernandez of New York and George Berg also of New York.
The three other co-champions who shared the trophy with Rebano were fellow Filipino Jan Paragua of New York, Mark De Dona of New York, and Luca Dona of Texas.
“I offer my victory to the victims of ‘Ursula’ typhoon and to the Taal volcano eruption,” Rebano exclaimed.
Asked how he felt to be a Filipino grand slam champion, Rebano, a soft-spoken former employee of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for 10 years before campaigning as a chess player in the US, said his secret was “dedication, focus, prayers.”
Despite his busy schedule, Rebano, one of the few 50 above Filipino chess players who remain active in US tournaments, said he regularly studied the games of the world’s top grandmasters and the latest opening variations.
He thanked his adviser and No. 1 supporter Dr. Gil Asoy, Tacloban City Mayor Cristina Gonzalez-Romualdez and husband, former Mayor Alfred Romualdez, and his family for the moral support.
Rebano said despite his achievement, he will continue to play in other major tournaments this year “because my goal is to keep on winning and to give glory to my country, friends and family in the Philippines. God has been good to me throughout my campaign in the U.S.”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)